The Connection Between The Digestive System And The Brain
Researchers are learning how the biochemical processes of food intake and digestion interact with changes in the brain. They are finding that the gut microbiome the community of viruses, bacteria and other microbes in the digestive system may influence the onset and progression of Alzheimers disease.
Studies in mice and humans show that the composition of the gut microbiome in Alzheimers and mild cognitive impairment is different from that in cognitively normal beings.
Changes in the gut microbiome as people age have been linked to disruptions in the immune system, persistent inflammation and chronic diseases, including neurological disorders such as Alzheimers. Researchers are exploring how these changes are related to each other and to brain changes related to Alzheimers, including neurodegeneration and the accumulation of toxic proteins beta-amyloid and tau.
Identifying the good and bad gut microbes associated with Alzheimers could help scientists learn more about the biology of the disease and develop a new way to predict and potentially treat it.
Learn More About Being Proactive About Your Brain Health
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What About Vitamins And Supplements
Observational studies and clinical trials have looked at many over-the-counter vitamins and dietary supplements, including vitamins B and E and gingko biloba, to prevent Alzheimers disease or cognitive decline. The idea is that these dietary add-ons might attack oxidative damage or inflammation, protect nerve cells, or influence other biological processes involved in Alzheimers.
Despite early findings of possible benefits for brain health, no vitamin or supplement has been proven to work in people. Overall, evidence is weak as many studies were too small or too short to be conclusive.
Take DHA for example. Studies in mice showed that this omega-3 fatty acid, found in salmon and certain other fish, reduced beta-amyloid plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimers. However, clinical trials in humans have had mixed results. In a study of 485 older adults with age-related cognitive decline, those who took a DHA supplement daily for 24 weeks showed improved learning and memory, compared to those who took a placebo. Another study of 4,000 older adults conducted primarily to study eye disease concluded that taking omega-3 supplements, alone or with other supplements, did not slow cognitive decline.
For more information, visit the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
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Who Has Alzheimers Disease
- In 2020, as many as 5.8 million Americans were living with Alzheimers disease.1
- Younger people may get Alzheimers disease, but it is less common.
- The number of people living with the disease doubles every 5 years beyond age 65.
- This number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.1
- Symptoms of the disease can first appear after age 60, and the risk increases with age.
What Are The Warning Signs Of Alzheimers Disease
Watch this video play circle solid iconMemory Loss is Not a Normal Part of Aging
Alzheimers disease is not a normal part of aging. Memory problems are typically one of the first warning signs of Alzheimers disease and related dementias.
In addition to memory problems, someone with symptoms of Alzheimers disease may experience one or more of the following:
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life, such as getting lost in a familiar place or repeating questions.
- Trouble handling money and paying bills.
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure.
- Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them.
- Changes in mood, personality, or behavior.
Even if you or someone you know has several or even most of these signs, it doesnt mean its Alzheimers disease. Know the 10 warning signs .
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World Health Organization Guidelines
These WHO Guidelines, published in May 2019, provide the knowledge base for health-care providers to advise people on what they can do to reduce their risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
The reduction of risk factors for dementia is one of several areas of action included in WHOs Global action plan for the public health response to dementia.
How To Prevent Or Delay Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers disease is a chronic, progressive degenerative brain disorder that breaks down and eventually destroys brain cells and the neurons that connect brain cells to one another.
The disease usually starts slowly and gets worse over time. It is a common form of dementia, leading to a decline in memory, behavior and mental capabilities. According to the Alzheimers Association, Alzheimers disease makes up 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases.
Experts do not know the exact cause of Alzheimers disease. However, three major risk factors are age, family history and genetics. Also, women may be more likely to have Alzheimers disease than men. In addition, people with mild cognitive impairment and past head trauma appear to have a greater risk of developing it.
Early symptoms of Alzheimers disease are memory and recall difficulties. With time, people start having problems with comprehension, speaking, reading, writing and performing day-to-day activities.
People with AD may also experience depression, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, a change in sleeping habits, social withdrawal and distrust in others.
There is no cure for AD. However, if you are at risk of developing this disease, you can prevent or slow its progression with lifestyle changes, dietary changes and simple home remedies. These measures will work best when used early in the course of the disease.
Here are the top 10 ways to prevent or delay Alzheimers disease.
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Regular Exercise Will Help You In Preventing Alzheimers Disease And Dementia
Physical exercises reduce nearly 50 percent of the risk of developing Alzheimers disease. Regular exercise helps people who have begun developing cognitive problems. Start exercise programs does not mean you have to begin with full force by joining a gym. You can consider small ways of getting movement such as taking the stairs, walking from the parking lot, walking in the block while on your mobile phone or carrying your groceries. Regular exercise will help you in preventing Alzheimers disease and dementia. Below are few tips for begin and adhere with your exercise plan:
Support For Family And Friends
Currently, many people living with Alzheimers disease are cared for at home by family members. Caregiving can have positive aspects for the caregiver as well as the person being cared for. It may bring personal fulfillment to the caregiver, such as satisfaction from helping a family member or friend, and lead to the development of new skills and improved family relationships.
Although most people willingly provide care to their loved ones and friends, caring for a person with Alzheimers disease at home can be a difficult task and may become overwhelming at times. Each day brings new challenges as the caregiver copes with changing levels of ability and new patterns of behavior. As the disease gets worse, people living with Alzheimers disease often need more intensive care.
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What Is Known About Alzheimers Disease
Scientists do not yet fully understand what causes Alzheimers disease. There likely is not a single cause but rather several factors that can affect each person differently.
- Age is the best known risk factor for Alzheimers disease.
- Family historyresearchers believe that genetics may play a role in developing Alzheimers disease. However, genes do not equal destiny. A healthy lifestyle may help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimers disease. Two large, long term studies indicate that adequate physical activity, a nutritious diet, limited alcohol consumption, and not smoking may help people. To learn more about the study, you can listen to a short podcast.
- Changes in the brain can begin years before the first symptoms appear.
- Researchers are studying whether education, diet, and environment play a role in developing Alzheimers disease.
- There is growing scientific evidence that healthy behaviors, which have been shown to prevent cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, may also reduce risk for subjective cognitive decline. Heres 8 ways.
Ways To Prevent Alzheimers Disease Naturally
While the research is promising, with the National Institute on Aging backing multiple clinical trials, studies so far have not conclusively shown that lifestyle changes or dietary supplements can prevent or slow Alzheimers.5 However, while further studies and trials are on, there are some things you can do to improve your health both mental and physical. This, in turn, could possibly improve your chances of warding off Alzheimers
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What Is Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimer?s disease, or simply Alzheimer?s, is a neurological disease that affects the brain and is characterized by impairment in memory subsequently followed by an impairment of thought and speech, ultimately culminating in a state of utter helplessness.
Dementia, on the other hand, is a group of brain disorders that are marked by a mental deterioration of the brain. Alzheimer?s disease is a form of dementia and thus, affects the way the brain functions, and the way a person behaves.
Myths About Dementia And Alzheimers Disease
The right treatment and support are critical to the well-being of anyone diagnosed with any form of dementia, so its important to know fact from fiction when it comes to these common myths.
Myth: Dementia is a normal part of aging.
Fact: Dementia is a disease of the brainnot a normal part of aging. Forgetting where you put your keys is a common problem for a lot of people as they age. But signs of dementia are more than just moments of forgetfulness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . With dementia, a person may be unable to complete ordinary tasks at home or at work, get lost in familiar places and forget the function of common items. When these symptoms appear, its time to see a doctor.
Myth: You cant reduce your risk of getting Alzheimers disease or other kinds of dementiayou either get it or you dont.
Fact: Adopting healthy habits can lower your risk of developing dementia, or at least delay the onset. Healthy body, healthy mind, says Dr. Caselli. What we can control, we should control. Though he adds that even a lifetime of healthy habits is no guarantee of protection.
Myth: Since there is no cure, theres no point in getting a diagnosis.
Myth: A diagnosis of Alzheimers or another form of dementia means life as you know it will soon end.
Myth: Coping with a family member with Alzheimers is overwhelmingly difficult.
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Eat A Healthy Low Carbohydrate Diet
Consider this like any organ in your body, your brain needs to be fed. Your brain needs more nutrients than any other organ. To function properly, it needs omega-3s, magnesium, vitamin D, B12 and so much more. If your diet is nutrient poor, so is your brain. If you are not eating a well rounded diet rich in vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, you may experience anxiety, depression, brain fog, memory loss, etc.
Id first like to address the healthy part of eating a healthy diet. So many people are confused about what constitutes a healthy diet. The simple answer is this: whole foods, foods without ingredient labels. Vegetables, proteins, nuts, seeds and fruits.
More specifically, the base of your diet should be vegetables like leafy greens like kale and collards, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, artichokes, etc. The more variety, the better.
Next, you want healthy fat. Healthy fats like olive oil, grass-fed butter or ghee, avocado oil, duck fat, lard, etc. You may have heard negative things about fats like lard because of the saturated fat content, but did you know that your brain is over 60% saturated fat? Did you know that your cell membranes are made up of saturated fat? Or that your hormones are driven by fat? Saturated fat has been wrongly vilified my friends. Without it, your brain would be scrambled eggs.
Alzheimers Diet: 16 Foods To Fight Dementia + What To Avoid
The best Alzheimers diet is Dr. Dale Bredesens KetoFLEX 12/3 diet. This slightly-flexible ketogenic diet can lower your risk of developing Alzheimers disease or dementia, especially in the earliest stages of cognitive decline.
This revolutionary diet also encourages 12-hour fasting periods so the body has more time to repair cell damage. Make sure to not eat within 3 hours of going to bed either.
By eating foods such as green leafy vegetables, fish, nuts, and even an occasional glass of red wine, you can reduce your chances of developing Alzheimers.
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The Importance Of Vascular Health
At present, researchers are still trying to understand the causes of Alzheimers disease and how to treat it.
But, vascular causes of dementia are another story. Vascular disease can cause or worsen dementia. Diseased blood vessels, along with high blood pressure, can cause tiny areas of bleeding or blocked blood flow to the brain silent strokes that may not even cause noticeable symptoms.
But when these small areas of brain injury happen over and over again, a person can develop problems with memory, gait, balance and other brain functions. Researchers are exploring the role of vascular disease in the development of Alzheimers dementia in particular, but its not yet clear if or how this occurs.
Taking steps to improve the health of your blood vessels involves lifestyle changes. Since brain changes can start decades before dementia symptoms appear, the earlier you begin preserving your vascular health, the better for your brain.
Heres a bonus: Improving blood vessel health helps you avoid stroke, heart attack and other serious diseases.
It’s been estimated that one in three cases of dementia is preventable. You cant do anything right now to stop or reverse the underlying mechanisms of Alzheimers disease, but you can do something about hypertension and vascular disease risk factors.
What’s The Bottom Line On Alzheimer’s Prevention
Alzheimer’s disease is complex, and the best strategy to prevent or delay it may turn out to be a combination of measures. In the meantime, you can do many things that may keep your brain healthy and your body fit.
You also can help scientists learn more by volunteering to participate in research. Clinical trials and studies are looking for all kinds of peoplehealthy volunteers, cognitively normal participants with a family history of Alzheimer’s, people with MCI, and people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.
To find study sites near you, contact NIA’s Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral Center at 1-800-438-4380 or . Or, visit the Alzheimers.gov Clinical Trials Finder to search for trials and studies.
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Mental Workouts And Social Activity
Staying mentally and socially active could also help. The National Health Services, UK, suggests taking up activities like reading, writing, enrolling in adult education programs, playing a musical instrument, learning a foreign language, or taking up a sport that also involves social engagement like bowling or golf.14 Doing puzzles or a crossword or Sudoku can be a good way to spend your mornings and are a great workout for the mind. The Alzheimers Research and Prevention Foundation suggest doing mental exercises they call Brain Aerobics thrice a week for at least 20 minutes at a time.15
Dementia Prevention: 5 Steps To Take Now
While forgetfulness and problems thinking most often show up in people age 60 or older, medical research is discovering that the disease starts making changes in the brain many years before that.
In a 2017 article in JAMA Neurology, the authors looked at data from 15,744 people from all over the country to see the relationship between smoking, diabetes and elevated blood pressure and the chance of developing dementia over 25 years.
People with high blood pressure in middle age increased their risk of having dementia over the next 25 years by 40%. And in the case of diabetes, that risk goes up by 80%. Thats almost as much of an increased risk as having a genetic vulnerability for Alzheimers.
Healthy choices and lifestyle changes in your 40s may make a difference in your dementia risk. Talk to your doctor about strategies to guard against plaque buildup and narrowing of your arteries:
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Is Dementia The Same As Alzheimers Disease
Alzheimers is the most common form of dementia, so dementia is just a category that Alzheimers Disease belongs to. Yet, there are other forms of dementia besides Alzheimers.
Dementia can be categorized into four different forms of dementia: